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Classic Punk From The Gears and The D.I.'s Revisited

(conqueroo) The Gears were formed in 1978, the heyday of Los Angeles punk, when two childhood buddies from the Glassell Park neighborhood of L.A. singer Axxel G. Reese and drummer Dave Drive joined forces. They created the "punk surfabilly" sound after seeing the early Hollywood punk bands while being influenced by other SoCal cultures. The band's recorded tour de force was the live album Rockin' at Ground Zero. Shortly after this epic live recording in 1982, the Gears' guitarist Kidd Spike angrily smashed his ax to smithereens mid-set at the Starwood and the Gears were done. Out if the ashes of The Gears, vocalist Reese and drummer Drive launched a new band called The D.I.s (Drill Instructors).

In its Rockin' at Ground Zero (Deluxe Edition) two-CD reissue, due out September 8, 2009, Hep Cat Records features the complete 1980 LP packaged with the first single ("Let's Go to the Beach") as well as five never-before-released demo recordings from 1979, a total of 23 Gears songs, all remastered. This edition also contains Rare Cuts!, 22 studio recordings by The D.I.s, including the entire Billy Zoom-produced five-song 12" vinyl EP Lock and Load. This comprehensive Gears collection, 45 songs in all, carries a list price of $19.98 and includes two fold-out posters.

Hep Cat will also release the original Gears Rockin' at Ground Zero as a single CD with five previously unreleased demo recordings that include the rockabilly'd-up title track, "Rockin' at Ground Zero," and the never-before-released "Girl Crazy." This 23-song remastered collection packaged in a digipak with a fold-out poster, lists for $14.98.

As if that weren't enough, the Gears' Rockin' At Ground Zero will also be issued by Hep Cat as a vinyl LP in a limited run of 500 copies. The long-player features colored vinyl and silk-screened jackets, just like the original 1980 LP on Playgems Records. This fully remastered edition contains four 1979 demo recordings and lists for $19.98.

Preserving The Gears' punkabilly influence, the D.I.s moved on to a broader definition of roots music. Many of Los Angeles' best-known punk denizens were D.I.s at various times Jimmy Reed (Levi Dexter & the Ripchords), Matt Lee (Ray Campi's Rockabilly Rebels), Mike "Shaky" Wilcox (The Rockats), Thadius T. Baker, Patrick "Frenchie" French (The Joneses), "Venice George" Chavlez, Ron Emory (TSOL) and Jonny Ray Bartel (The Red Devils and The Knitters).

Although the D.I.s soldiered on through 1992, they left only one recording in their wake the aforementioned five-track 12" EP Lock & Load, produced by X's Billy Zoom. As well as being available as part of The Gears' Rockin' at Ground Zero (Deluxe Edition), fans can purchase it separately as The D.I.s: Rare Cuts!, for a $14.98 list price. Jonny Whiteside, known for his encyclopedic knowledge of punk and roots music, wrote the liner notes.

According to Whiteside's notes, "The D.I.s worked a mutant strain of loaded beat & roll, bristling with misfit rockabilly riff-slinging, fang-bearing punk momentum and mad, deep boogaloo. The band's near-militant attitude and gleeful aggression always adhered to rock 'n' roll's purest elemental structure, and they crafted a set characterized by skull-denting, hip shaking grooves."

A historical note: When Tipper Gore began her tirade against filth and pornography in pop music, she did so one afternoon on live television outside Tower Records on Sunset Blvd., brandishing a copy of the D.I.s' Lock & Load, sputtering, "This is exactly what I'm talking about." Tower sold 500 copies in less than a week.

Where is Tipper when we need her the most?

Hep Cat Records, along with Collectors' Choice Music and Noble Rot, is a unit of the Infinity Entertainment Group.

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